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The Nature of Leadership:   Equipping future-fit leaders through being in Nature

November 8, 2017

In this ‘Agile Age’ the nature of leadership is fast transforming.  Fortunately, there is a powerful learning environment available to us – Nature.   Nature is emergent, adaptive, resilient, co-creative, receptive and responsive, the very qualities we need as future-fit leaders.

Not only can we learn from Nature, we now know that being-in-Nature helps us to become more agile, emergent and co-creative.

This short article explains why Nature is an ideal learning environment for future-fit leadership.

There are three levels by which Nature helps future-fit leaders learn:

  • Science now shows us that simply being-in-Nature improves our wellbeing, creativity, empathy, agility, self-awareness and natural ways of being-and-knowing (intuitive, rational, emotional, somatic intelligences). After being in Nature for at least 30mins, are hormones change, our senses liven, brain synapse connections enhance, left and right brain hemispheres inter-relate more readily, and we are able to draw upon more of our natural embodied wisdom. Being-in-Nature is not just good for us, it is congenial to exploring our sense of purpose, sensing into personal and organisational challenges, opening up to fresh insights, better empathising with different viewpoints, while gaining perspective on our stuck patterns and biases.

 

  • There is a zeitgeist shift in the air, a revolutionary shift in worldview, affecting how we perceive life and our sense of place and purpose within it. This challenges us at deep and partly unconscious levels, calling in to question how we create and deliver value in business and beyond.  This transforms how we view life, from separateness (in business this manifests as viewing the organisation as a machine, with compartmentalised problems, and piece-meal reductive solutions) to connectedness (realising the organisation is a living system, that our challenges are systemic in nature and that our living organisation is intimately entwined with stakeholder relations at local and global levels, economic, social and environmental). With this shift comes a realisation that our solutions need to be created with a different level of consciousness from that which created the problems in the first place. Being-in-Nature helps us with this shift. In Nature, we can sense more readily into the agile, responsive and emergent leadership we now need for this ‘new norm’.  We can take inspiration from living systems in terms of the patterns, processes, relationships and the eco-systemic nature of life.  Biomimicry for creative innovation, redesigning for resilience, the purposeful living organisation, agile emergent leadership – these approaches are sourced from a living-systems mind-set. In Nature, we can sense into the divergence-convergence-emergence dynamics that underpin this living-systems logic.  This helps us sense into the ‘new norm’ of the organisation-as-living-system. It also encourages a shift in our consciousness from the reductive analytic problem-space into the curious, exploratory emergent-space whereupon we sense into our emerging future with fresh eyes.

 

  • To operate in today’s fast-moving ever-changing business environment, we need to call upon all of our natural ways of being-and-knowing. We need ‘full spectrum’ consciousness if we are to move beyond surviving into thriving amid these challenging times of breakdown and breakthrough.  Those leaders who are better able to sense-and-respond effectively will not only do better in navigating these volatile unchartered waters, but will also create the conditions for their teams, organisations and wider eco-system of stakeholders to perform more effectively.  Whether it be deep dialogue round an open fire, reflective solo time in the woods, embodiment practices in the open air, or applying living-systems insights from nature into business, time in nature offers something special as part of a leadership learning journey.  It helps cultivate and deepen our ways of being-and-knowing, so that we can call upon our intuitive, rational, emotional and embodied intelligences more effectively. This helps shift the collective intelligence of the group. Regardless of the group mix, I have witnessed throughout all the future-fit nature immersions I have hosted that leaders gain a visceral felt-sense of this shift in personal and collective consciousness, so that they can call upon this embodied shift in being-and-knowing more readily amid the stresses and strains of the everyday workplace.

I often check-in with participants after they have experienced a future-fit nature immersion, to see how they are getting on and whether they are embodying shifts in their being-and-knowing – by example, here is feedback I received yesterday from a busy senior programme manager:

‘thank you for following up on our wonderful session earlier this year.  I have to say I feel I have been performing at another level since then’

And feedback from a CEO who attended a workshop a few weeks back:

‘what a fantastic group you brought together, and what a deep space for heart-felt sharing you held for us. One of the things I am still reverberating with is a deep connection – both self-awareness and system-awareness …thank you so very much.’

And feedback from a Partner of a global consultancy:

‘Please receive fully my heartfelt gratitude for this wonderful retreat. It is exactly what I needed at this time – to feed my mind, heal my heart and soothe my soul…the way you held the process and the group was awesome.’

Future-fit leadership is about dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty, with curiosity and spontaneity. It is a shift in our attentiveness from reactivity to responsiveness; a shift in consciousness from separateness to connectedness.  It is about surfing the edge of the wave of knowing and unknowing, of surrendering and flowing. Then, as future-fit leaders, we can more deeply listen-in to ourselves and our system, while creating spaces for our teams, organisations and eco-systems of stakeholders to become more vibrant, more alive, more resilient, and more life-affirming.

Giles Hutchins a coach, adviser, and Chair of the Future Fit leadership Academy, see here for more on these future-fit nature immersions, and a short three minute video on the book Future Fit

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jessica Luxmoore permalink
    November 9, 2017 6:46 am

    Thank you, this sort of article reassures me that we can look forward to a positive and cohesive society; respecting and learning from nature.

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